When a woman gets pregnant, her immediate concerns would include knowing what and how much food she is allowed to eat, what vices she has to stop, if there are any physical activities that she should avoid for awhile, and if she would need to take supplements to aid her growing baby. Very seldom would you hear the mention of “stress” with regards to its effect on pregnancy.
Stress is a silent culprit in most diseases today. If you read more about the causes of heart problems, diabetes, cancer, and other illnesses, you will find that stress is always a contributing factor. If stress could cause these life-threatening diseases, just imagine how it could affect the growth and development of a fetus in the womb. This may sound like just simple logical reasoning, but new scientific studies are actually showing that stress do affect pregnancy.
When the mother is subjected to stress during pregnancy consistently, the levels of stress hormones in her body will rise and this can trigger an inflammatory response. As a result, the environment where the fetus is developing is also affected. The fetus will have to adapt to this changing environment and stimuli, which is far from ideal for his or her healthy development. In other words, the fetus will also be stressed. This can result to premature childbirth, which is in itself dangerous for the health of both mother and infant. Babies who are born before the full term of 40 weeks suffer the risk of not having fully developed organs. This can later manifest as diseases that the child has to endure for the rest of his or her life.
Another effect of stress during pregnancy is low birth weight. When the mother is stressed, she will raise the levels of cortisol, norepinephrine, and epinephrine in her body. This can constrict the blood vessels in her system and consequently affect the flow of blood through the umbilical cord. This means that even if the mother is eating healthily and taking supplements to provide for the healthy growth of her baby, these nutrients may not reach the fetus at all if there is an intrauterine growth restriction caused by stress.
Even if the baby is delivered in full term and with the right weight, this does not mean that he or she is free from any problems later on. New studies are showing that stress during pregnancy can also result to diseases on the child that may manifest later on in life. Since the fetus’ development has been affected, this can lead to learning disorders, lung diseases, heart disease, and other chronic health problems. Some experts even believe that stress can cause neurological problems to the child associated with temperament and behavior.
Aside from these, stress also affects the mother’s health. During pregnancy, women can experience a weaker immune system and this can be further aggravated when stress sets in, as it decreases the number of white blood cells that are responsible for fighting off infection.
Therefore, to ensure that mother and fetus are both healthy, strive to avoid stressful situations. If you are ever subjected to one, learn to manage it well.
Yoga, meditation, and various prenatal therapies are available for mothers to help them keep their cool and help them enjoy a relaxed pregnancy.
More On Pregnancy Stress From The Net:
Press TV. Newborns of mothers who smoke during pregnancy have altered stress News-Medical.net. Researchers from The Miriam Hospital have studied the effects of smoking during pregnancy and its impact on the stress response in newborn babies. Their research indicates that newborns of mothers who smoke cigarettes during pregnancy show lower Smoking in Pregnancy alters baby stress hormonesPress